I know exactly what I need to do, to be well.
I know that I should sleep and rise early, squeezing in some exercise before I head to work.
I know I ought to curb my drinking. And my coffee intake. (And that even a few accidental mouthfuls of gluten can drastically affect my health and mood.)
I know I have to limit the amount that I take on: at work, projects outside of work, darting about the country. It’s frustrating, but I tire easily, and feel the effects deeply.
At the same time, I know I shouldn’t let myself slip into a sort of creative inertia: trogging to work, trogging home again, tidying up other work, and slipping into a Netflix-or-phone-induced coma. (Jesus: this is the first thing I’ve written in months that hasn’t been for some sort of payment.)
(Double Jesus: the irony that getting rid of social media is my most popular post of all time, when I’ve been blearily scrolling through Twitter for about an hour a night recently.)
And I know that, above all else, I shouldn’t let my thinking spiral out of control. The moment I get run down, I lose my ability to keep things in perspective. My mind runs at a hundred miles an hour, each worried thought more frenzied than the next.
I know all of this. But I haven’t been living it, lately – in fact, probably not for the last six months. Work has been hectic. I’ve worked bloody hard and was promoted twice, and I’m proud of that. But it was a lot. Life has been hectic, too. I’ve had various gluten related incidents, which have plundered my energy levels and my mood.
I haven’t taken much annual leave this year, and only really took a holiday for the first time in October, because of a big trip planned for December. Various big life events have taken a toll (as well as being turfed out of our rental flat, and needing to find somewhere new to live.)
I’ve not been unwell, by any stretch, but I have been sharply reminded of something I learnt in my Mental Health First Aider course, earlier this year: you can have ill mental health, without being mentally ill.
Recently… I just feel like my light’s gone out. I’m doing fine, but there isn’t any spark. It’s fine. I am genuinely okay. But I know things can be better.
So I’m trying. It’s seven weeks today until the aforementioned big trip, where I’ll be totally switching off from reality for the first time in several years. (Good old Cuba: limited internet.)
And in between now and then, I’m going to try and relearn the lessons I’ve been teaching myself for the last several years. Before heading into a new decade with, hopefully, a bit more energy, a bit more creative spark, and less of a sense that I’m running as fast as I can, just to stay still. (Plus: less of an urge to collapse into bed constantly.)
Wish me luck.